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In the end, it was the closet space that decided things.
Strange, perhaps, that such a momentous decision (or what turned out to be such a momentous decision) was made entirely on the basis of closet space, but history is full of big moments that hinged on small choices. And both Erin and Janice wanted a lot of closet space.
They were sitting in a Chinese restaurant, with the Kung Pao Chicken pushed up precariously against the edge of the table to make room for the rate estimates and the parking costs and the change-of-address forms and the various and sundry bits and pieces of paper that accompanied the decision to get an apartment together. Both of them were laughing a lot.
“–and I’m not going to Crescent Heights! I’m sorry, but that woman had paisley everywhere! God, it was like living inside a giant microbe!”
“Well, I do think they redecorate…”
“I don’t think you can redecorate past paisley! I think it seeps into your consciousness, and before you know it, there’s suddenly this maddened urge to put up paisley drapes, to re-upholster your sofa, and then you start painting those weird swirly things on your face and talk about how the Paisley People are coming and we have to prepare the human sacrifices! I don’t want to live like that, Janice. I don’t.”
Janice was beet-red, gasping with laughter. She’d utterly lost it somewhere around the words ‘Paisley People’, and it took her several seconds to calm back down. “OK,” she finally gasped out. “So Crescent Heights is out. Any objections to Morningside Views?”
Erin smirked. “Apart from the fact that everyone there was a lesbian?”
Janice batted her on the shoulder. “Hush! This is the twenty-first century, now; you know, political correctness and all that? Besides, we don’t know that everyone there was a lesbian…”
Erin gave her a look of calculated disbelief. “The landlady was checking out my ass.”
Janice rolled her eyes skyward. “If this turns into another discussion about how inadequate your ass is, I swear that I will–“
“Easy for you to say,” Erin grumbled. “You’ve got a great ass. But no, I’m serious. Everyone in that building was a lesbian! We walked past…what, three apartments, and we saw two female couples? There was another one in the lobby, too. I mean, I’m not opposed, but it was just odd. It’s not like Minneapolis is San Francisco or something.”
“Actually, I read an article in City Pages, and–“
“Yep. We’re like the San Francisco of the Midwest.”
“Ooh, that should be a new city motto. ‘Minneapolis: San Francisco of the Midwest!’ Or how about ‘Minneapolis: Like Saint Paul, But With Gays!'” Janice had picked a bad time to take a drink of her pop, and spent another few moments coughing.
“So that’s a ‘no’ on Morningside Views, then?”
“I didn’t say that!” Erin responded. “I mean, OK, sure…everyone there is a lesbian. But I don’t think that’s actually part of the rental agreement, is it? ‘Renters agree to boink each other.’ I think we can live there without being gay…and that place had more closet space than God. Plus, it had a nice vibe. Comfortable.”
“Not like that place in St. Louis Park…what was it called? Palace Apartments?”
“Something like that. The place with the landlord who looked like he was auditioning for the community theater production of ‘Silence of the Lambs’. Brrr…”
Erin’s arms were numb, her feet were sore, she had three long scratches from where the edge of a bookshelf caught her, and her shirt felt like it was glued to her body with sweat. “OK,” she muttered to herself, “now I know why Janice hates moving…” Especially in summer. Ick. People who thought Minnesota was always cold should try living there. She scratched at yet another mosquito bite (obtained while in the driveway of her parents’ house, telling them yet again that she loved them, and that she just needed her own space now that she was out of college, and that of course she’d call them, and that it was only ten miles, and that she’d stop by every week, and that she’d give them the new phone number as soon as she got it…it was a wonder she wasn’t drained dry.) Still, she’d gotten plenty of help from Kev–pretty nice of him, especially since they’d only been dating for a month. And she had to admit, he looked excessively hunky in the little tank top he was wearing…
First things first, she decided. Shower, then sleep–the bed was set up, and as far as she was concerned, everything else could wait until she was awake, alert, and air-conditioned (the apartment had air-conditioning! she exulted silently. No more sweating the summer away!)
After a quick shower in lukewarm water (there’d be plenty of time to figure out how to make it hotter, she muttered to herself), she bid a sleepy farewell to Janice, who was still unpacking, slipped off her robe, and collapsed onto the bed. By the time she was under the covers, she was already asleep.
They were at an amusement park, but it wasn’t one she recognized. She’d been there, mahmutbey escort though. She knew she had. Several times. It was one of their favorite places to go together. Ever since they’d become a couple.
She couldn’t remember when they’d become a couple. They were just there, holding hands, and it felt like the most natural thing in the world. They strolled down the midway together, and she saw a game with a stuffed whale as the prize. She recognized the whale from when she was five…she’d lost it on a trip to the family cabin, up north, but somehow the amusement park had gotten it, and now she had to win it.
“Janice,” she said, “can you win me that stuffed whale?”
Janice said, “You know that all the games here are rigged.”
“But you know all the tricks.”
Janice smiled, in that knowing way, and walked over to the man at the prize counter. He explained the rules of the game, but she didn’t follow them. They seemed so complicated to her, but Janice just nodded. She picked up the ring with the cross on the end, and threw it at the other ring with the cross on the end, and they hooked together, and the man gave her the stuffed whale, and she’d never been so happy, here at the amusement park with Janice…
And then she slipped out of the dream as her alarm blared out rock music. The first thing she wondered was where she’d put the whale. Then she remembered…just a dream. No whale. The thought oddly saddened her, and stayed with her as she was pulling on her clothes and getting ready for work.
The thought that she was with Janice, though, she just dismissed.
“I think you were right,” Janice said as she came through the door. Erin had already gotten home, and was unpacking to the sounds of ‘Voice of the Beehive’.
“…there’s a barbarian, yeah, yeah, yeah, in the back of my car…right about what?” She paused the CD.
“I think that this must be on some secret list of lesbian apartments or something. I mean, on the elevator, on the way up, there were these two girls, and…well, they weren’t making any secret about which team they were batting for…”
“Gee,” said Erin, already beginning to fill her closets, “I hope we’re not taking up some poor lesbian couple’s space or anything…”
Janice quirked a smile. “Yeah, they’ll probably have to stay at a Motel 6 until we move out or something.”
Erin grinned. “Or maybe they’ll start taking over some other apartment complex, one apartment at a time. I can just see the movies now… ‘Attack of the Lesbians! In 3-D!'” She brought her arms up like a zombie. “Join us! Listen to Sarah McLachlan and wear flannel!”
Janice rolled her eyes. “I don’t know if flannel’s mandatory–the two girls in the elevator were wearing business casual.”
“Oh, I’m not serious,” Erin said in a rush. “I know that there’s more to it than all the stereotypes, but…y’know, it’s not funny to have an ‘Attack of the Lesbians!’ movie where they’re all talking about wearing a wide variety of different outfits, including but not limited to business casual. It just doesn’t have the same rhythm.”
Janice shrugged. “I suppose not–but it still has a certain Terry Pratchett humor value to it, right?”
Erin groaned, closing her closet doors. “I knew I should never have lent you those ‘Discworld’ books. In any event, the cable guy came by–we now have the Cartoon Network, so you can kick back with the Powerpuff Girls. Oh–it’s a new episode, isn’t it? Cartoon Cartoon Fridays? You’ll have to tape it…me, I’m heading out with Kev.”
“Well, at least at first. If it doesn’t bother you too much, we might come back here and…”
“Screw like bunnies?” Janice was rewarded with one of Erin’s few incidents of blushing and stammering.
“Um, well, I mean…now that I’m not living at home, I…”
Janice quirked another smile. “Say no more. Just try not to be too loud.”
Erin took off her clothes. Not slowly, in a ‘sexy strip-tease I want you to want me’ sort of way. Quickly. Almost angrily.
This was because Kev wasn’t there to watch her. Kev had gone home.
Things had gone alright at the club. She’d had a few drinks (she wasn’t nervous, she thought. Sure, she’d only had sex once, in the back-seat of a car during homecoming, but she was emphatically not nervous, and the drinks would get rid of whatever nervousness there wasn’t), and they’d danced… there was a little heat on the dance floor, maybe even more than a little, and she was more than willing to take him back and show him what they’d done with the new apartment.
It was when he got inside that it all soured. The mood changed… Kev got edgy, restless. He didn’t like the colors, and he thought that the layout was funny, and he said that the whole thing made his eyes itch. Of course, he’d said the same things when he was helping move their furniture in, but she’d chalked that up to the heat and the mosquitoes. She’d been ranting about wanting to shove a wire brush maltepe escort down Regis Philbin’s throat to get his voice back to normal, if she recalled right. But now, he seemed to want nothing more than to get out…
Meanwhile, Erin herself had been getting more and more edgy, too. She’d been wondering (silently at first, then out loud as the evening progressed) whether this was going to work out. It had only been a month, she’d said, and there was so much they didn’t know about each other, and maybe they needed more space, and he’d agreed, and she’d gotten angry at him for agreeing, and he’d gotten angry at her for getting angry with him, and they’d shouted, and he’d left.
And now she was pulling off her clothes, her anger like an ache in her chest, and what made it worse was that she was still horny. Her body had been expecting sex, and it didn’t understand that the person who was supposed to give it to her was no longer in the building.
There was a knock on the door to her room. Erin grabbed a robe, and answered it. “Hi,” Janice said. “I just wanted to let you know, if there was anything you wanted to talk about, I’m awake…”
Erin shook her head, and sighed. “Thanks,” she said, “but I’m hoping that this will all seem better in the morning. Right now, I’m just going to sleep, and maybe when I wake up, everything will be into a normal perspective.”
Janice nodded. “Alright. See you in the morning.” She closed the door, and Erin slumped down onto the bed. Eventually, she even slept.
She’s back at her parents’ house. She’s in the basement, the family room. The couch has been folded out into a bed, and she’s up late watching TV…it’s an old horror movie, ‘Attack of the Lesbians’, but she’s somehow vaguely disappointed that it’s not in 3-D. They’re just getting to the big climax–the spot where the hero realizes that they can’t be real lesbians because they’re wearing flannel instead of business casual–when she notices that there’s another door in the basement.
She realizes immediately what must have happened. Her parents must have built an addition onto the basement after she left. This does not strike her as strange; people build additions onto their houses all the time, especially after the children have moved out. ‘Empty Nest Syndrome’, or something. She is curious, though, and she decides to look into the new room. She opens the door just a crack.
There is a woman in there that she does not recognize. She’s being attacked. Erin realizes that the TV set was a window, not a TV set. That she was watching this woman all along, and that the lesbians have gotten her. She can hear the screams and moans now much more clearly, and she realizes that the woman is enjoying this.
The lesbians turn. They see her, and start moving towards her. She realizes that if they catch her, they’ll make her into a lesbian too, and she tries to run, but it’s like she’s not getting any further away, and they catch up with her…
She’s naked now. She doesn’t know where her clothes went. One of the lesbians is holding her by the arms, and another is holding her by the legs…they stretch her out on the bed, and she can smell something warm and musky…she feels hands running over her breasts, and she knows why the other woman moaned, and she’s moaning too, and she can feel hot breath between her thighs, and she knows that there’s nothing she can do, nothing she wants to do as the woman slowly, delicately, gently licks at her pussy lips, and it feels so fucking good…she feels the tongue on her clit now, moving her body higher and higher and higher and she wants to scream! and then it just keeps going, over, and over, and over, and there’s nothing but her and these women and the sex…
She wakes up with the blankets tangled around her, and a wet patch on the mattress.
“Janice,” Erin asked, “have you noticed anything…weird…happening?” Janice was up…sort of. She was still in her bathrobe, and she looked like her eyes were only about a quarter-open. Erin caught herself wondering if Janice was wearing anything under the robe, and pushed the thought away.
“Strange like what?” Janice started up the coffeee, silently pondering the need for an intravenous drip.
“Um…” Erin blushed a little. “Weird dreams.” She sat down on the couch and began to replay the ‘Powerpuff Girls’ episode, trying to act nonchalant.
Janice blinked the sleep out of her eyes. “Dunno…I always get weird dreams after I make big changes. Like when I get a new job, for a week or so I get these dreams where I’m doing nothing but working, over and over, just nothing but me and the job…what kinds of dreams are you having?”
Erin blushed a little harder at the words ‘over and over’. She tried to cover it up. “Oh, um…just sort of strange dreams. Like, um, last night I dreamed I was in a horror movie, but then it all turned weird and…” She struggled to find some other way to describe it beside ‘incredibly hot.’
“Incredibly hot?” maslak escort Janice asked.
Erin jumped a little. “How did you know?”
Janice shrugged. “Because sex is the only thing to make you blush. Well, sex and that one time that guy in PoliSci said that the role of women was as ‘sex-providers and servants to the superior male’. But that wasn’t really a blush. More sort of a ‘beet-red with fury’ thing.”
Erin smiled a little. “Remember when I said that with an attitude like that, he’d have to be using his right hand for both roles?”
Janice smiled back, sitting on the couch next to Erin. Erin suddenly wished she was sitting closer, then edged back a little from her room-mate. Brain, body…let’s all work together on this one, she chided herself. “Look,” Janice said, “we’ve all had dreams like that, especially after a hot date that…well, didn’t end like you’d expected it to.” Erin tried to focus on what Janice was saying, but she was suddenly distracted by the awareness that Janice hadn’t adjusted her robe properly when she’d sat down, and Erin could see her inner thigh… “I’m sure that was all it was.”
Erin shook her head. “No, I… I mean, it wasn’t, I…” her tongue felt all tied in knots, and she looked at Janice helplessly, trying to figure out what she was trying to say, and she leaned in, and…
She broke off, and ran back to her room. She turned up her music, and tried to just read her books and not think about any of it.
“…sweet surrender…” the music played… “…is all that I have…to give to you…”
Eventually, she slept again.
She’s in a mall. The whole building is all ramps and elevators and a hundred levels, and when you look down from the narrow walkways it seems like it’s a hundred stories high. Erin is suddenly, uncomfortably aware of how terrified she is of heights.
There’s a store she wants to go to nearby (Business Casual Wear, the sign says), but there’s no walkway leading to it. She’ll have to jump. She doesn’t want to jump. It’s not safe. It’s too far to fall, and her parents are watching her.
Janice is there. She’s wearing flannel. She smiles, and it melts down into Erin, and then she jumps across, and it’s alright because Janice is there, but it’s not a store that sells clothes. It’s a store that sells beds. There’s a couple on each bed. They’re all women. Each one of them is a woman, and they’re all on the beds. None of them have clothes. “It’s alright,” Janice says. “Everyone in this store dresses like that. It’s business casual.”
Erin isn’t scared anymore. She wants to dress like that. She slips off her clothes and crawls into the bed, and Janice is there waiting for her…
And then she wakes up. And Janice really is there.
Erin falls out of the bed in what is meant to be a graceful leap, but turns into a chaotic stumble as she gets entangled in the bedclothes. She pulls them down onto herself and for a terrifying moment, she can’t see, and then she surfaces from the suffocating cloth and she sees Janice, and Janice is nude, and she doesn’t know whether to scream or laugh or cry or climb back onto the bed and make mad, passionate love until the world ends in a ball of flame…
Janice sees the expression on her face. She grabs a robe, and carefully, calmly walks around the bed to where Erin is sitting, looking at her like a deer in the headlights. “I think I know what’s happening,” she says.
“Wha’?” Erin asks. Having Janice this close is overpowering. She can smell her, the scent of her skin and hair, and she can feel a trickle of moisture between her legs and she can smell that too…
“You seemed so odd yesterday,” Janice says, keeping her voice calm and even, trying to impart this into Erin by osmosis, “and I thought about all the couples who live here, so I looked around on the web…I felt silly, but I found out who built this apartment complex.” Erin stares blankly. Janice puts her hands on Erin’s shoulders. “The architect was a pioneer in psychology as well as architecture–she believed that a person was actually shaped by their environment. That colors and angles could induce emotions in others–like painting a room blue to make people calm, or yellow to get them to be more energetic. But here’s the thing–she also was an outspoken activist in gay rights. She believed that women could only really find love with other women!” Understanding begins to dawn in Erin’s eyes. “I think she did something when she made this place…I think it’s affecting you.”
Erin blinks slowly, like a lizard. “Me? What about…what about you?”
Janice lowers her head for a long moment, then raises it again. “I’ve known I was a lesbian since I was fifteen, Erin. I’ve been in love with you since sophomore year, when we took that PoliSci class together. I’ve wanted to say something about it for so long, but I didn’t know, I mean, you never seemed to be really homophobic, but I knew you had boyfriends, and I thought I never stood a chance, and I thought that I could at least be close to you as a friend, but I never knew this would happen, I just thought this place had lots of closets, and now…” the words come out in a torrent, like a dam finally bursting under the pressure of unnameable fathoms of water. Finally, the flow dries up in little trickles. “…and I love you. But it shouldn’t happen like this.”
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